Fishman Holdings' retail subsidiaries, Toys-R-Us Israel Ltd., Ace Auto Depot Ltd. (TASE:ACDP), and Mega Sport Ltd., claim that the government's discriminatory enforcement of the ban on Jewish-owned businesses to operate on Saturday is scandalous. The retailers note that the government hires non-Jewish supervisors to single out businesses open on Saturday.
The retailers seek leave of appeal from the Supreme Court against a ruling by the National Labor Court, which overturned a decision by the Tel Aviv District Labor Court to void indictments filed against the retailers for employing Jews on Saturday.
In a sharply-worded ruling, Judge Ariella Gilzer-Kats said that the state was using illegal selective enforcement by not enforcing the Hours of Work and Rest Law (5711-1951) in certain places, such as Ben Gurion Airport and Eilat, or on certain types of businesses, such as theaters and cinemas, or against certain sectors, such as minorities.
Judge Gilzer-Kats also ruled that the government was operating on the basis of extraneous reasons, such as helping small businesses and merchants in competing against large retail chains, which are open on rest days, and on the basis of its profit and loss, thereby harming equality.
The National Labor Court reversed the judicial conclusions, and ruled, in part, that partial enforcement was not necessarily illegal, since the resources available for allocation for enforcing the law were limited. Therefore, the solution is to improve enforcement, not abolish the partial enforcement.
The retailers state in their appeal that Judge Gilzer-Kats' original ruling should be restored, and that the Supreme Court should hear the case because it deals with new issues that have not yet been heard or decided. The retailers claim that the state does not enforce the law at Ben Gurion Airport for extraneous reasons. State tenders published by the Israel Airports Authority for franchises at the airport stipulate as a condition for bidders to participate in the tenders to keep the stores open on Saturday. The retailers claim that the state benefits from the stores' proceeds for this activity.
Eliezer Fishman is the controlling shareholder in “Globes”.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on January 10, 2008
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2008